The strange evolution of Captain Marvel

Barry Evans
Barry Evans

I have about had it!  Life around me keeps changing. For example, I am certain you have all heard of the comic strip “Alley Oop.” There was even a 1960 No 1 recording hit about him by the Hollywood Argyles.  I recall the song, but not the Argyles.  Heck this strip is even older than I am which is definitely saying something.  There have been different artists and writers over the years, but the latest ones are retiring.  Old Alley and his flame Ooola live in prehistoric times in the land of Moo.  They have always been time travelers thanks to Dr. Wonmug.

The new writers and artists have transformed them to a new dimension (they don’t explain what was wrong with the old one).  Lord knows what they will do with Alley now!  In my opinion things should always remain the same particularly when it involves important things like comic strips.

Speaking of comic strips a couple of days before I read about the “new” Alley Oop, I had purchased a book for one of my grandsons.  Its title is “Super Patriotic Heroes.  It is a bunch of actual comic book hero strips from the 1940’s.  It involves the heroes demolishing the enemy during World War II.  Probably now if they were starting out, they would be bashed for stereotyping and saying that all Nazis weren’t bad. Actually they were just misled by their leaders most of whom had bad childhoods or had their ambitions thwarted by the establishment.  However, back then everybody in this country knew that the Axis nations were bad for everybody and their leaders wanted to rule the world.

Thus, you had The Shield, Captain America, Miss Victory, The Eagle, U.S. Jones, Yank & Doodle, Captain Freedom, Super-American, The Liberator, and even Uncle Sam.  They were all heroes dedicated to beating the enemy, and kids loved them.  At times they would even sing the Spike Jones rendition of “Der Fuehrer’s Face” while reading about their favorite hero.  That song involved Heil-ing while spitting in the Fuehrer’s face. That was about as bad as songs got in those days.  It was reported that was not one of Hitler’s favorite songs. One thing about the artists in those days was that the Nazis were not pleasant looking people nor were the “Japs” as they were called back then.  Heck, there weren’t any chocolate bars available thanks to the murderous Axis nations, so they deserved what they got in the strips.

Another change before us comes to the movie theaters soon.  It involves another super hero who also fought the Axis powers. I am referring to Captain Marvel who in real life was a boy newspaper reporter named Billy Batson. One day Billy ran into an ancient seer named Shazam who gave him the power to say Shazam and turn into Captain Marvel. The Captain did many good deeds and eventually there was a Captain Marvel Jr, Mary Marvel, Three Lieutenant Marvels, a Bunny Marvel and an Uncle Marvel (who was a fraud) – not to mention Black Marvel who was a bad guy.  In any case, DC comics sued and claimed that Captain Marvel was too much like Superman.  They won and the good captain disappeared – but he made a confusing comeback.

Marvel Comics determined that they could now use the name Captain Marvel and a guy hero was created and given that name.  DC decided to bring the good captain back but because Marvel Comics had the name they just called him Shazam.  I don’t know why they didn’t just promote him and call him Major Marvel or something, but they never asked my advice.  The point is there are two movies which will soon be on us.  One is called “Shazam” and involves the real Captain Marvel – but they can’t call him that.  The other is a movie called “Captain Marvel.” However, Marvel Comics has now changed the good Captain into a very glamorous but tough woman.

I could go on, but now you know why it is good if things could stay the same.  There would certainly be less confusion.

Barry Evans write about Life in The Villages for